ECE ILLINOIS remembers alumnus Fred Nearing

5/6/2019 Joseph Park, ECE ILLINOIS

ECE ILLINOIS remembers Fred Nearing (BSEE '43), an active presence on campus and a beloved alumnus.

Written by Joseph Park, ECE ILLINOIS

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers our condolences to the family and friends of Fred Nearing (BSEE '43). Nearing was known to be an active presence on campus and a beloved alumnus. He set the standard for alumni engagement against which all others are measured. After graduating from Illinois in 1943 with a degree in electrical engineering, Fred moved to New York City to work in the war effort and became a field engineer with Crossley and Associates as a Field Engineer.

Afterward, Fred worked for Hewlett-Packard in electronic instrument marketing as the Midwest regional sales before forming a new marketing company, Electronic Instrument Associates with two colleagues. In his free time, Fred was an avid golfer and even earned his private pilot's license.


Fred Nearing (BSEE '43)
Fred Nearing (BSEE '43)

Fred served on the ECE and university alumni boards along with several other advisory boards. For his years of constant support, he was honored with the Lou Liay Spirit Award at the 2012 homecoming, a university honor bestowed upon distinguished alumni. When the ECE department raised money for the new building, Nearing made a significant donation to name The Frederic G. Nearing Family Classroom.


Fred and his wife Betty also made a generous gift to establish the Frederic G. and Elizabeth H. Nearing Professorship which is currently held by ECE ILLINOIS Professor Rayadurgam Srikant. Fred was also a recipient of the department's Marcia Peterman award in 1997 which honors a deserving alumnus in recognition of outstanding service to the department and its students, faculty, and alumni.

At the age of 94, Fred was interiewed for an article about the new ECE building and was asked how he stayed so active and energetic. He mentioned his passion for gardening, but also his alma mater. "I say that I go down to Champaign six or eight times a year to try to keep my brain in shape," he said. "I think you'll have to look far and long before you find anybody ninety-four who can keep up with me." 

Even though Fred's involvement with the university helped energize him, ECE ILLINOIS benefited as much, if not more, from his contributions. His legacy of support makes a difference in the lives of ECE students and faculty every day and will continue well into the future. 

Read more about Fred's contributions to ECE ILLINOIS including the Frederic G. Nearing Family Classroom, the Frederic G. and Elizabeth H. Nearing Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professorship, and how the Marching Illini formerly honored Fred, one of their most dedicated past members.

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This story was published May 6, 2019.